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Crime lab worker suspected of tampering with evidence

PORTLAND — Evidence in hundreds of criminal cases is being reviewed following accusations that a forensic analyst with the Oregon State Police tampered with drug evidence.

The analyst, who worked at the agency's lab in Bend, was placed on leave earlier this month, reported The Oregonian. The woman has not been identified, but agency spokesman Lt. Bill Fugate confirmed she is under investigation over the handling of drug evidence.

The discovery of misconduct puts current cases and convictions in doubt and could cost counties thousands to retest and retry cases. Families of victims and defendants will also be affected as prior cases are called into question.

"My concern is for the victims who were injured — making them whole," said Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel. "And for the suspects, that they had the proper result. This crime strikes at the heart of our justice system."

State police notified district attorneys across the state on Friday and issued lists detailing the affected cases.

Hummel said he must retest the evidence in 502 cases dating back to 2012. In Klamath County, District Attorney Rob Patridge said he's reviewing 328 cases dating as far back as 2007.

The majority of cases with evidence worked by the technician are from Eastern Oregon. Ulys Stapleton, district attorney in Lake County, said only about a dozen of his cases were affected and that two cases remain pending.

The Bend lab is one of five operated by the State Police. Others are in Central Point, Springfield, Pendleton and Portland.